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The College Years: Freshman

Updated: Jan 18


While working with many different students this spring, I am reminded of how planning ahead can be helpful and inspiring for the present.  I have a wide variety of students, some very serious and college bound.  Some just in it for the joy of playing music, and some college students who visit me from time to time to get extra coaching or feedback.  This is for the college students and serious high-schoolers who are beginning to set goals for a future of music making. 

I would like to examine the study of flute in college and how, ideally the time can be utilized.  This first post will explore the freshmen year.  It is imperative to high school students that they know and understand the expectations for entering college studies.  It is a really different life.  One that is dictated and led primarily by the student.  For many, it is the first time that they have been delegated so much control over their time and ambitions.  It is exciting because of this.  This can be a time of great inspiration.  But also a time of great consternation as students grapple with their own abilities to set goals and see them through.  Sometimes the biggest obstacle to overcome is a students inability to take care of themselves and get enough sleep!

During the Freshman year, it is important to set expectations for lessons and practicing.  Students must be able to achieve practice goals and perform under many different circumstances.  Forming a good relationship with a practice routine and becoming completely familiar with specific scale patterns and method books is essential in the Freshman year.   The length of practice time that is recommend is individual.  I had a teacher suggest that if you are taking 3 credit hours of lessons, than you should practice a minimum of three hours a day.  Given the amount of music students need to learn; band, orchestra, chamber, scales, orchestral excerpts, and solos...three hours can go by very quickly.

Before a flute student enters college, they should be comfortable with all major/minor scales and basic scale patterns like arpeggios and thirds.  A book that I recommend to my high school students for scale study is:

This book is like a scale dictionary.  There are even some great etudes in the back.  Remember, we learn the most from scales once they are fully learned.  From there you move on to technique: tonguing, even fingers, breathing, how you use air, and phrasing.  Just learning what notes are in a scale is not the point!!  I think most students think that they have really achieved something if they just get the key right...that is only the beginning.

My favorite scale book for technique is:

This book should be memorized by the time a student leaves college.  If you travel anywhere in the world, flutists will know this book by heart.  This has always been at the center of flute classes when I have studied in America, Canada, and Europe.

The following are more books that will be studied through out the college years:

Joachim Anderson                    Etudes

Marcel Moyse  De la Sonorite                                                 Tone Development through Interpretations                                                 Gammes et Arepeges

Matthieu-Andre Reichert Daily Studies

Our solo repertoire is vast, but it is important to stock your library with a few complete works that are at the heart of the development of our instrument.  You will return to these pieces again and again, each time with a better understanding of their role in history and how they should be interpreted.  I hope that you will develop a relationship with them that grows in affection as the years pass.   There is a reason that these works have stood the test of time...they are wonderful.

Johann Sebastian Bach Sonatas and Partita (Barenreiter)

Georg Friedrich Handel Sonatas (Barenreiter)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Concerti (Barenreiter)

Louis Moyse, editor                          Flute Music by French Composers (Schirmer)

George Philipp Telemann Methodical Sonatas (Barenreiter) Twelve Solo Fantasies (Barenreiter)


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